Hudson to play Winnie Mandela amid legal threats

Sat May 15, 2010 3:20pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

CANNES, France (Reuters) - Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson is to star in a biopic of former South African President Nelson Mandela's ex-wife Winnie, whose lawyers have already contacted the film makers threatening to block it.

"Winnie," which also features Terrence Howard as Nelson Mandela and is based on a book by Anne Marie du Preez Bezdrob, starts shooting in South Africa on May 31 and could be ready for theatres by spring next year.

Producer Andre Pieterse said Winnie Madikizela-Mandela had asked to see and approve the script before the picture went ahead, but that its backers had refused.

"A lawyer's letter came some weeks ago," Pieterse told reporters at the Cannes film festival, where Hudson and Howard appeared to promote the production.

"It was a benign letter and yet it contained the threat of an indictment, an interdict that could stop the picture.

"She (Madikizela-Mandela) ... would like to see the script and approve. (But) the film will be made based on a screenplay that was well researched and without any interference.

"If the film maligns her in any way then there will be legal basis for her to take action."